Council U-turn over wheelchair user school bus refusal

Josh Higginbottom and mum Sharon Davis
Image caption Josh Higginbottom has cerebral palsy which affects movement in his arms and legs

A council has reversed a decision to refuse a 10-year-old wheelchair user a free bus to school because he lives "within walking distance".

Josh Higginbottom has cerebral palsy which affects movement in his arms and legs, but was told he cannot get a bus as he lives within three miles.

His mother Sharon Davis said she felt "relief but also frustrated" they had to "keep fighting" for transport help.

Derbyshire County Council has not clarified why the decision was changed.

Ms Davis waived her right to any confidentiality concerning Josh's case, but the authority said it would not discuss it, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

She said: "No reasons were given as to why they have changed their mind.

"They have not said how the transport will be given to Josh, either through a minibus or taxi, we have no idea.

"My first feeling when I got the letter was relief, but also of frustration that we shouldn't have to keep fighting for little things like transport - it is just so wrong."

After the original decision was publicised in May, several charities said they would campaign for Josh to have free transport to school.

Image caption Ms Davis said the 26-minute journey is too "busy and treacherous" for Josh to complete alone

Josh will be starting at Ashgate Croft School in Chesterfield in September, half a mile away from his home on Ashgate Road, Brampton.

Ms Davis said the 26-minute journey was too "busy and treacherous" for him to complete alone.

It involves crossing six roads and has uneven and narrow pavements for a wheelchair.

After Josh, a full-time wheelchair user, took a test journey, he said: "It is tiring. I won't have energy to do work."

The county council previously said it had a strict policy on providing school transport but the family could appeal.

After the change in the decision, the authority said it does not comment on individual children's cases.

However, a spokesman said: "Original decisions are looked at as part of an appeal and any additional information provided as part of that appeal is also considered.

"Where appropriate, original decisions may be overturned."

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